I used to be a competitive ballroom dancer. I started dancing (ballet and tap) at age three. When I was nineteen, I became obsessed with the movie Saturday Night Fever and wanted to learn how to Hustle. Shortly after, I attended my first ballroom dancing competition and I was blown away. After that, I started training up to forty hours a week in the Latin style. I had a professional Latin ballroom partner but our partnership didn’t last.
My mom is Mexican-American and my father was Czech/Polish. I consider myself a biracial Latina.
Find a writing group, attend writing conferences, get a critique partner, and hire a good editor.
Listen to the contest judges even if you don’t agree with them. Consider them beta readers. If they dislike a part of your writing or plot, chances are a reader might agree. Take constructive criticism and always try to improve your writing.
On the literary side, I was an English major at Stanford, so I love 19th century tales of the supernatural and science fiction: Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla, Matthew Lewis’ The Monk, Jane Austen’sNorthanger Abbey. I also have a penchant for Arthurian Literature (Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Mists of Avalon) and Literature of Passing (Charles Chestnutt’sThe House Behind The Cedars). I love Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy,F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Vladimir Nabokov’s King, Queen, Knave and Herman Wouk’s Marjorie Morningstar.
As for contemporary books, I love Alisa Valdes Rodriguez’ The Dirty Girls Social Club, Lauren Willig’s The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, Kristan Higgins’Too Good to be True, and Kiana Davenport’s Shark Dialogues.